Reporting third-quarter results, Arkansas Best Corp., parent of national less-than-truckload (LTL) carrier ABF listed a net loss of $5.6 million or $0.23 per share. This compares with a net income of $15.4 million in the same period in 2008.
“Our third quarter results reflect the on-going impact of lower freight levels and competitive industry pricing that deteriorated further compared to the first half of the year,” said Robert A. Davidson, Arkansas Best president and CEO. “We are now entering the fourth year of a severe freight decline that is unprecedented in our company’s history. It is unclear when business levels will benefit from a significant improvement in our nation’s economy. In the meantime, our company’s emphasis will remain on providing a high level of value-added service to our customers while managing our business, for the long-term, through diligent cost control and disciplined pricing.”
Reporting tonnage per day decreased 10.1% versus third quarter of 2008, the company also said total billed revenue per hundredweight dropped to $23.98 compared to $27.75, a decrease of 13.6%. It attributed the at least part of the result to the decline in fuel surcharge compared to the third quarter of 2008.
The company experienced an operating loss of $14.0 million compared to operating income of $25.2 million in third quarter of 2008. Its operating ratio of 103.8 compared to 94.7% in third quarter of 2008.
“The smaller decline in ABF’s third quarter tonnage implies an improving freight environment compared to the first half of the year. However, this year-over-year trend is primarily related to comparisons back to last year’s third quarter when business levels fell sharply. Nevertheless, this quarter’s tonnage also benefited from modest market share gains from our LTL competitors,” said Davidson.
“On a sequential basis, ABF’s third quarter tonnage trends were slightly better than normal, seasonal expectations. Though that trend has weakened somewhat since the last full week of September, we continue to add freight previously handled by other carriers. Regardless of business levels, we continue to manage the costs of the ABF network each day in line with the amount of available freight, while striving to maintain the high level of customized service that is important to ABF’s customers,” Davidson continued.